João Antônio Gomes
The Political Effects of the Queen's Death
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Love her, or hate her, it remains undeniable that the late Queen Elizabeth II was one of the most charismatic figures of our time, and as such, she was an integral part of the Commonwealth's politics. With her death, many have pointed out how her reign outlasted several prime ministers and US presidents, which comes as utter evidence not only of her longevity but also of how she was a point of consistency and symbol of unity even throughout the most turbulent times. Through her constant display of tranquility, the Queen managed to diffuse the animosities of British society for the last decades; her passing, therefore, creates an existential threat to the UK's Monarchy as the throne's succession line lacks the reassurance she could give.
Despite having little practical experience, the newly declared king, Charles III, must live up to his mother's role in British politics. The monarch is responsible for more than attracting tourists: he is the very personification of national identity and imagined reverence by avoiding controversy. Charles III, however, is a known controversialist. For instance, back in 2013, a donation of 1.2 million pounds by Osama Bin Laden's brothers to the Prince of Wales's Charitable Fund raised public disapproval of the royal. Furthermore, his infidelity during his marriage with Princess Diana still stains his public image and that of the now-Queen consort Camilla Parker Bowles. Although one might be inclined to overlook his imprudence as a trait of his past self, his actions-- some as recent as 2015, when he was accused of attempting to influence the British government --seriously undermine the public's identification with and reverence towards the monarchy. Charles, therefore, must work on his popularity and be discreet even during political turmoil to fulfill the monarchy's duty of promoting domestic stability.
Queen consort Camilla Parker Bowles and King Charles III after he pledged "lifelong service" on Friday (09/09).
On an international scale, the implications of the Queen's death are likely even more tangible. One can expect rising republicanism in New Zealand, Australia, and the Caribbean in the long run since her death and the unpopular successor are likely to produce debate over their permanence in the Commonwealth. Furthermore, the consequences are even more immediate in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II was pivotal to England's soft power over the regions. In 2011, for example, she visited Dublin and the National War Memorial Gardens (a monument to Ireland's fallen soldiers in the war against the UK), which raised her popularity among the Irish, who generally were more fond of her than of the UK's prime ministers. As one of the few positive symbols of the UK for the Irish is now gone, her death deeply strengthens republican (separatist) sentiments in Northern Ireland and even in Scotland, which has a similar situation and will probably be holding a new independence referendum in the next few months. Accompanied by Brexit and the rise of Chinese influence, these cleavages will join the British Foreign Ministry's list of concerns.
Queen Elizabeth II pays her respects at the Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011.
The Queen's death takes a toll on the UK, especially its diplomacy and internal stability. While the public may be intrigued by the details of such a historic moment, such as the rebranding of banknotes and funerary protocol set by "Operation London Bridge," it remains necessary to understand how this occurrence alters our very reality. The Queen is a symbol of an often vile colonial past; however, she also exemplifies the importance heads of state can have in liberal democracies, and it remains critical to know how to separate those two when evaluating her legacy.